A genealogical term I haven’t heard for ages is “daughtered out.” I’m sure it still happens and with the same frequency, but just isn’t as important as in times past.

Daughtering out occurs when there are no male heirs to carry on a surname line. For instance, if your father has no brothers, or if he and his brothers have only daughters, the line is said to have daughtered out.

This does not mean the surname will die out, only that this particular line will no longer continue the name. Other families bearing the surname, whether related or not, likely have sons so the name continues.

The term may also be used in research if a person conducts research only on the male lines in the family, not as common today as in the past when inheritance was more important. Most of us today do research on our entire family, not just our surname line.

Compiled genealogies in the past often focused only on those descendants whose surname continued the male line and carried the name forward, i.e., sons and their sons and their sons, etc. This may have made sense in the distant past when inherited real estate was passed to the males and the females received a token such as a feather bed and a cow.

It makes little sense today when women have substantially the same rights as men. While women don’t carry the surname, 50 percent of our ancestry is from our mother.

Also, the importance of DNA testing today increases the value of the female line. We don’t just study a father’s yDNA but also the mtDNA inherited from the mother.

An example of a “daughtered out” line is in my mother’s Belding family. The line descends from Richard Baildon, an early Connecticut settler. Due to lapses in Connecticut’s early records, the earliest record I have found is that of Benjamin Belden, born between 1745 and 1764 and died about 1802 in Rye, Westchester County, NY.

Benjamin had a son named Benjamin Belding, born about 1800. He married and in 1820 moved his family to New London, Huron County, Ohio, where he died in 1866. This second-generation Benjamin had 14 children — eight sons and six daughters. Thirteen of these children married and had a total of 17 children, five of them sons.

Four of these sons married and had nine children, including only two sons. These two sons married and had 13 children, including three sons. These three sons also married, but two of them had no children and the third had two daughters.

Here in just six generations, and less than two centuries, this Belding line has daughtered out. We should value all of our ancestors, not just the males, especially if we want to ensure that our family stories are preserved for the future.

Betty Lou Malesky, a Board-certified GenealogistSM, is a past president of Green Valley Genealogical Society. Contact her at bettymalesky@cox.net or visit the society’s website at www.rootsweb.com/~azgvgs/.